Pilot Interview Preparation Tips

Preparation Tips for Competency Based Interviews

One of the keys to competency based interviews is practice. It can seem uncomfortable at first when answering the questions and it can be daunting. However, with practice one can become very proficient with the competency based interview and come to enjoy the structured format.

Situation, Task, Action, Result

Using the STAR format takes some time to be adept with but its structure helps keep the interviewee on point. It ensures the interviewee answers the question in a structured format which aids in answering the question correctly.

STAR stands for:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

When asked a competency question Pilot IP suggests pausing for a couple of seconds, take a deep breath and use these seconds to decide on the best answer. This aids in not rushing in and starting down a path that can lead to an incorrect answer or fabrications.

Pilot IP suggests having at least 3 examples for every competency question that can be asked i.e. on communication skills have 3 examples where you have demonstrated your communication skills or when your communication has been tested. Have 3 examples for difficult decisions, 3 examples for teamwork questions etc. You may find that some of your answers can be interchangeable between different competencies and this is ok.

It is worth remembering that not everyone applying for a pilot position has previous work experience or is a qualified pilot seeking new employment. Some may never have had a job and are applying for a cadetship. If this is you, do not worry, we all have to have our first job and first interview. If this is the case you can demonstrate competencies from your school and home life.

It is worth having examples from all aspects of your life not just your career. For example, you may find an example of your leadership skills comes from your extracurricular activities or sporting life and this can help you with your first job interview.

Example Question:
Can you tell me about a time when you had a difficult decision to make.
Sample Answer:

(Pause, take a couple of seconds to analyse the question and choose your answer.)

There are many times in my professional and personal life when I have had difficult decisions to make. One decision that comes to mind is something I think of often as it was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. The situation I had was when I was captain of the school rowing team and the team had trained very hard for a number of years together and we reached the final of the national schools annual rowing competition.

The task I had was to select the team on the day of the race. However our best rower turned up to the event with the onset of flu. He wanted to race but I had to decide if he was able to perform to the required standard and if not select our standby rower who wasn’t as capable as him. I also had to look after my friends health. This decision was particularly difficult as our best rower was my best friend and I know how much he dedicated the last two years to training and competing for this event.

The action I took was ultimately to select our standby rower and tell my best friend that he wouldn’t be competing at the race today. This was a very difficult personal decision to make that could affect our friendship. I felt it was the right decision for the team and for my friend who was ultimately very sick but he wasn’t happy.

The result of the decision was that we came second in the race. This was an excellent result under the conditions and I am very proud of the outcome. I felt that we wouldn’t have competed as well with my best friend rowing, he didn’t like the decision but in time grew to realise it was the correct decision and we remain great friends to this day.

You can see from this example that I have subtly used the STAR format to answer the question. This helps give it structure and ensures I answer the question to the required standard. There is no issue with saying the elements of the STAR acronym as I have done above.

You may be docked marks if you do not answer all four components of the STAR.

To reiterate, the key to interview preparation is PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.

Write down all the competencies you think you may be asked. Look at the traits/attributes required as specified in the interview notification or job posting and use these to guide your preparations. Have examples of how you have demonstrated these attributes.

Then practice (out loud) your answers using the STAR format.

If it helps write out your answers to help revise on the morning of the interview.

And PILOT IP is here to help.

Call 086 382 5948 for assistance.